League matches continued to be competitive with narrow defeats to city rivals OPOs and DHSOB (a colour clash saw Argaum playing in borrowed YMCA kit!) however it wasn't until November that the first league win came with a gutsy 13-10 win at North Tawton. A solitary try from Paul Collins with the rest coming from the boot of Darren Wills. The form continued that same month with a victory over Buckfastleigh at Bickleigh Down, Argaum coming back from a half-time deficit against the league's bottom club to prevail 32-25.
In what can only be described as an administrative cock-up Argaum somehow contrived to be docked two points for failing to play Marjons in a pre Christmas league tie (in the club's defence matches against the student side were often re-scheduled to accomodate term times). To rub salt into wounds the fixture was played after Christmas anyway with a second heavy defeat to the College side that season, Marjons being the one side in the division with which Argaum were not at all competitive.
A poor start to 2001 saw three consecutive league defeats including a 3rd narrow defeat to Prince Rock (15-21) followed by another very close match with the runaway league leaders DHSOB. After a few years in the doldrums they were themselves now resurgent since merging with Plymouth YMCA, but Argaum held them to within 10 points. Fears of the trap-door to Devon 3 seemed to be allayed a little in February when the side showed what they were capable of when completing the double over North Tawton. Paul Collins and Danny Morgan with a brace of tries apiece in a 44-0 demolition at Bickleigh Down.
Just when the side seemed to be getting together external events intervened in the shape of the Foot and Mouth crisis. This of course had a huge impact on the wider farming community with restrictions on travel and movement of cattle but in rugby terms it also meant that pitches in rural areas were ruled out of bounds. Bickleigh Down was one of those affected and with the team unable to utilise the pitches, improvised training nights were held at Woolwell Community Centre, whilst both Central Park and Elburton were utilised for a couple of home matches. The crisis even extended to the 2001 Six Nations championship which had to be completed in the Autumn due to restrictions on travel in Ireland. On a local level it was decided that the season was to be extended and that fixtures would try to be completed utilising any available venue.
It was in such circumstances therefore that Argaum played their 'away' fixture against Buckfastleigh at Elburton with all to play for. Playing so close to home ought to have worked in the Chiefs favour but with key players missing they were unable to take advantage and despite outscoring their opponents by 3 tries to 2, they went down 20-15. This ultimately put paid to Argaum's hopes of staying up as, with the Foot & Mouth crisis worsening, the league season was curtailed with points eventually being awarded on a pro-rata basis. The Chiefs' final Devon 2 appearance for a couple of seasons saw them go down by a 20 point margin at Totnes despite themselves scoring 30 plus points!
There was brighter news in the RNEC Cup as Argaum reached the Final at the Rectory. After finally eclipsing Prince Rock (13-11, McDowell and Wills the scorers) at the 4th time of asking in the semi finals at Elburton they produced a performance to be proud of against Devonport Services in the final. In a display which left many present scratching their heads as to how this team had been relgated, Argaum led by 6 points to 3 going into the last quarter before Services Fijian substitutes proved the difference with a couple of late tries to take the cup by 15 points to 6. The Argaum finalists lined up as follows: R Belli, M Foster, D Truscott, P Collins, M Richardson, N Pinder, L McDowell, P Venkort, D Morgan, A Critchley (c), P Hall, D Wills, P Morgan, D Hill, S Tomlinson. Replacements: A Rees, M Louise, W Moulder.
The Chiefs record: P17 W4 L13 D0 F247 A433
The Tigers, ably led by fixture secretary and fly-half Andy Rees, had some notable victories including four over old adversaries OPMs who provided regular opposition for the club. There were a couple of decent home wins over South-East Cornish opponents Liskeard (12-5) and Saltash (19-8) the latter included a debut try for Chris 'Jock' Henderson aided by touchdowns from Stuart Quarterman and Tommy Cooper, Andy Rees providing the extras. Notably Argaum were still fielding their second string against Devon 3 sides such as Plympton Victoria and St Columba Torpoint; something that would not be repeated for a number of seasons. Incidentally the early season Plym Vic encounter saw Darren Truscott becoming the first Argaum player to receive a yellow card following the introduction of the 'sin bin' at the start of the season. After reaching the Pedrick Cup Final the previous season, hopes of a double cup final appearance were dashed when Prince Rock II won their Pedrick Cup semi-final (11-0) on an Elburton pitch adjacent to that where the first team's RNEC semi-final was being played.
The Tigers record: P21 W7 L14 D0 F287 A635
The Club XV matches included pre-season and midweek friendlies as well as touring matches. A heavy defeat by a powerful St Boniface Old Boys XV early in the season was lightened somewhat by the fact that former captain and coach Howell Phillips appeared for the invitational side; probably his last appearance at Bickleigh Down in a playing capacity. The match was one of three Sunday fixtures during the season with matches also played at Buckland Monachorum (7-34) and Milton Combe (46-27). OPMs were beaten 19-17 at Bickleigh Down in the traditional Boxing Day fixture, tries by the returning Paul Critchley, Phil Morgan and Paul Venkort and conversions by Andy Rees and Steve Tomlinson gave Argaum a much-needed Christmas boost. True to the club's idiosynchratic form throughout the season, the end of season tour to the East Midlands produced a close encounter with Nottingham Moderns followed by a rare tour win at Derbyshire opponents Bakewell the following day!
Club XV record: P11 W3 L8 D0 F163 A356
There was time for a bit of inter-club rivalry on May Bank Holiday weekend when the Under 35s overcame the Over 35s (60-55!).
At the end of season AGM Paul Pring stepped down as chairman due to work commitments having giving sterling service to the club. In his closing speech he warned that the club was in danger of going in to free fall if the levels of comittment on and off the field weren't improved; a speech that received rapturous applause and similar comments from others. A number of changes were made with Louise Needham (later to become Mrs Critchley) voted in as Argaum's first Lady Chairman, Simon Robertson becoming Junior Rep, whilst Joan and Terry Hills, who had both worked tirelessly as club stewards for several years, stood down. Life President Tom Hitchins closed the meeting, remarking that he hoped the club's position would improve next season and he wished everyone well for the future.